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To Slang, Or not to slang. That is the question.

Much of my writing time I spend in a chat room (anyone is welcome to join us!). We write for 20minutes and then if we want, share what we’ve written. Last week I was working on my third novella, In The Hay, of the Apple Trial series.

I’d just finished a writing sprint and then posted a paragraph of my work:

“Fun?” She sat up. “You nearly killed me! You might as well have picked me up at the top and chunked me down for the way you jumped us off there. And then we hit the grass and you rolled over me and you’re not exactly a light weight. I thought I was going to die. Why couldn’t you have just let me go down the way I wanted?”

KJ Reed, one of my awesome critique partners (and a Yankee according to my husband) pointed out a typo. “Chucked, not chunked, Keri.”

I stare at my screen and blink. Ah, in my neck of the woods, “chuck” is a better grade of hamburger meat and also my uncle’s name. I assured her, no, I was right, she was wrong. How quickly the attempts to prove me wrong rolled in from the seven or eight other people in the room!

“chunk is a piece of something. Such as a chunk of wood. Or chunk of meat.”

“But it’s also a term for throwing things!” I say. *crickets could be heard*

Discussions of vomit came up (I’ll spare you those details)

I am not going crazy! I ask my husband, he says, chuNked. After I explain the discussion, he declares all my friends are Yankees and that if he used the word chucked in that manner, he’d be accused of making fun of someone. I agreed.

The rest of the chat room did not. Light finally came in the form of someone wise enough to look up the definition. Turns out, chunked is an Americanism in use since around 1835 as a means of throwing things. However, since this was the 2nd definition for the word (and not the first), it was decided inadmissible as evidence.

The discussion continued on and was quite entertaining. My defense was my books are set in Arkansas, I should use language native of that region. In my opinion, not using native language would be like writing a historical and using modern slang.

What do you think? Slang it or not?

Keri Ford

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9 Responses

  1. As a lover of regional idiosyncrasies of language, I’d say ‘use the slang’! It’s part of what gives flavor to the text and the speech of the characters. I wouldn’t expect a Maine fisherman to use ‘y’all’ but I would expect it of one from South Carolina.

    For a lovely example, watch “My Cousin Vinnie.” Use of slang identifies the origins of the characters and establishes their identities.

  2. OMG–I LOVE LOVE LOVE My Cousin Vinnie!! and you’re right. they way he stands out makes that character.

  3. I’m with you. I say chunked not chucked. That just sounds funny and makes me struggle with it when I’m reading the sentence because it seems out of context to me too.

  4. Southern Slang – but if your character if southern, then I’d say ok in usage.

  5. I know Heather. It’s funny on my ear too. If I ended up taking out chunked in edits, I’ll replace it with tossed or something instead.

  6. yep, Cyndi. both are born/raised in central Arkansas.

    the funny part is I didn’t even realize this was a slang word until the discussion!

  7. Well it’s Chunked around these parts as well. LOL I’ve never heard “chuck” used for something thrown. Unless, like you said, it was food coming back to haunt you. So you are not crazy!

    My votes for “chunked”!! 🙂

  8. Besides, it’s Punkin chunkin’ not ‘punkin chuckin’

  9. I’d keep it as is and let the copy editor decide, and even then, if you want it “chunked” then make them leave it. Honestly, you could put either one in there and I’d know what you meant.

    I like “Southernisms.” You should have seen me trying to explain “Root hog or die” to those Canadians. LOL.

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